James McMickin preached: “The process of backsliding”
Backsliding is possible; no one is “once saved always saved”. Do not be fooled. (Christians do fall from grace. For example lucifer was in the very presence of God continually. If he fell, man surely can revert back to his old sinful nature.) If we can learn from Peter’s mistakes, we will benefit by doing the opposite and doing it right. Praise God Peter didn’t stay backslidden; he did repent and come back to God.
Prior to the verses in our text, Jesus asked His disciples a question, “Who do you say that I am?” (Who is Jesus to you?) Peter answered Him, “You are the Christ.” This was a divine revelation and Jesus commends him for hearing from God. Jesus then begins to explain to the disciples what that revelation means; that He must suffer many things, die and raise again. They didn’t catch that part about the resurrection, but were distracted by the death part. Peter, who had just recently had such a spiritual high by way of divine revelation, got out of the spirit and in to the flesh. He had a “prophecy” of sympathy for Jesus and rebukes him, opposing the plan of God.
1st step in the backsliding process of Peter: Opposing the plan of God / taking a stance that is against God. The church world is full of this.
When you exalt your own fleshly opinion over God’s divine opinion…over thus saith the Lord, you are in danger.
Satan was working through Peter, trying to derail Jesus from doing what He needed to do. Jesus strongly rebuked him. There can be no “I have a better idea, God.” We must be wholly dependent on God, to have victory. Let them say “you’re using Jesus as a crutch”…they’re right. We can’t even stand with out Him. Amen? Too many people have taken the Word of God and homogenized it. We want the real, sincere milk. If you’ve tasted that the Lord is good, you won’t want that watered down, worthless junk. You don’t need to second guess the scripture. God’s Word says what it means and means what it says. It doesn’t need interpretation.
2nd step in the backsliding process of Peter: Trying to bring Jesus, God and/or the Gospel down to man’s level.
We need to abort the works of the devil and the schemes out of hell. Jesus is Heaven’s Majesty, mighty, magnificent and awesome. He is not your average, regular guy. He is to be feared with reverence, humility and respect.
Peter at this point probably doesn’t think twice about second guessing what the Lord says. He thinks he knows it all, ‘I’m going to show you Jesus’. If you think you can prove something to or impress Jesus…let me tell you something, you’re wrong.
3rd step in the backsliding process of Peter: Attempting to impress or prove something to God (ie. By getting it done your own way).
It was Peter that cut off the ear and most likely he did it to prove to Jesus his loyalty. ‘See Jesus, you were wrong about me.’ Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him, effectively undoing what Peter had done. If you try to serve God out of a half backslidden state, you’d better believe Jesus will undo everything you try to do for Him. You will end up disillusioned, wondering why you can’t make anything work. It will cause you to ask God, “Why don’t you appreciate what I’m trying to do for you?”
4th step in the backsliding process of Peter: Following Jesus afar off.
Sin will take you longer and farther than you want to go and cause you to pay more than you would ever imagine. If you feel yourself getting puffed up above God’s opinion, it’s time to abort all that.
Here Peter is cussing blue streaks and denying Christ. This was not part of a growing process for Peter. He was, at this point, completely over the edge and was backslidden. He’d lost it. After the cock crew he went out and wept bitterly. And that was the beginning of the turning point for Peter.
Here Jesus was really challenging him. Peter, who has always been a know-it-all, humbled himself and was really broken. He told Jesus that He knew all things. Peter had finally learned how to wholly surrender to God.
We can learn from Peter; don’t go there and don’t do that. Search your heart for even the first step of backsliding.
Peter himself is telling us to add all these things to our faith and we don’t have to backslide as he did. Take heed lest you fall.